Considering the Customers' Interests When Planning a Restaurant Menu

The first requisite in menu planning is to know for whom the menu is being planned and what they like to eat. Even the design and décor of the food service and its ultimate financial success may depend upon the food offered in the menu.

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The menu, that is, the types of food to be served, is the foundation upon which the superstructure of the restaurant food service organization is built. Upon it depends the kinds of equipment needed, the staff required, the purchasing methods, and the storage requirements. Even the design and décor of the food service and its ultimate financial success may depend upon the food offered in the menu.

The first requisite in menu planning is to know for whom the menu is being planned and what they like to eat. Where all three of the patrons’ daily meals are served, as in institutions, the menu planner must also take into account what the patron needs from a nutritional standpoint.

When a new restaurant is planned, it is wise to have a marketing survey made to discover who the groups of potential customers are and where they are located. Established restaurants also could profit from such a survey in finding possible customers and determining methods of reaching them. They should also know who their present patrons are and the types of food that appeal to them. The modern trend is to gear the entire operation—menu, service, décor, etc., to a specific type of patronage and set up a merchandising plan to attract it.

Businessmen usually prefer beef in ample servings with vegetables. Details such as the types of rolls of bread served cannot be overlooked. Many restauranteurs serving business people provide different breads or muffins each day together with rolls of butter and find that they are appreciated. Where business executives frequently entertain customers the menu should be designed to satisfy free-spending proclivities.

Business women usually have a limited lunch hour and apt to be concerned about their weight. Like women shoppers, most of them prefer dainty sandwiches or combination lunches, such as a soup and sandwich or salad and sandwich combinations.

Convention visitors and tourists enjoy eating in local restaurants and tend to spend more freely than at home. They like to order dishes that they would not usually eat in their native habitat.

Family groups like table d’hote (complete) meals and appreciate such touches as elaborate but inexpensive relish trays. Many restaurants go out of their way to cater to children. They find it can be done profitable and that it brings adults as well.

Teen-agers constitute a large market, especially for the roadside restaurant featuring hamburgers, ice cream and French-fried potatoes.

Senior citizens seem to prefer cafeteria service and are more cost-conscious than other groups. Many of them have varying specific nutritional considerations when choosing their food. 

These are the basic considerations when planning a menu for a food service business.  As the term "service" implies, the customers' needs always come first.  It is what you can offer them that will keep them coming back for more and in turn will establish the image that your restaurant will be known for. For without the customer, there is no business. 

Read also: The Growing Popularity of the Food Service Industry

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Daniel de Villiers
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marinel macaraig
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Posted on Aug 9, 2010